MOTORCYCLE DIARY: 11

JUNE 28, 2021 – JORDAN, MT TO BISMARCK, ND

RECORDED IN BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA

[START OF AUDIO] [zipper zips] I am at the Wyndham Hotel, room 308, Bismarck, North Dakota. Woof. Let me not start with woof. It was a glorious day.

I left the Garfield Hotel after the best night’s sleep I’ve had in about 47 years. Ate breakfast back at the Summit Corral with my bike buddies, then left town. Beautiful weather, empty roads, glorious. Was briefly delayed when the two-lane road was cut down to one lane to allow for construction, so I was stopped at a red light waiting for the pilot car to come back – the car shuttles between red lights at either end of the construction zone, leading vehicles one way, then the other. So, I sat there by myself for some time and then another BMW motorcycle guy showed up. He and I talked for about 10 minutes while we waited. Then, we followed the pilot car over gravel and dirt and were on our way.

Mark.

Then – just a beautiful day of riding, really in my comfort zone. I’ve finally adopted the correct riding position for the bike, and so now riding on it at fairly high speed, irrespective of wind, curves, whatever, is fairly effortless. I think at the outset I was riding too upright, so I was getting knocked around by the wind more than necessary and encountering minor issues that vanished once I corrected my riding position.

Once I put my body in a more aggressive position, which I did initially to combat the wind, I realized this is how you’re supposed to be seated. Eating up the miles and traveling faster is easier. Intimidation and fear have dropped away. Again, not that I don’t respect the danger, but I’m no longer trepidatious in terms of my handling of the bike. Crossed from Montana into North Dakota, beautiful scenery the whole way.

I stopped at the sign announcing one’s arrival at North Dakota. There was a woman, and I assume her two daughters, also pulled off the road by the sign taking photos. I photographed them, they photographed me in front of the sign, and then I took off while they were all still pointing their iPhones at each other.

Then, however many miles farther down the road, there was another= scenic vista, so I decided to pull over again. The same crew pulled over behind me eventually, so we did it again. This time, I sat the two teenagers on the bike, took their photo. Then I placed a call to Michelle and I put the call into my helmet.

Then I got on the bike and got back on the road. After we had talked for about five minutes, I asked her, “How do I sound now?” “The same. Why?” I’m like, “Because I’m on the highway.” I realize this is not New Technology, but I admit it really knocked my socks off to engage in a phone conversation while zipping down the highway on a motorcycle.

Then I got to Fargo– not Fargo, Christ almighty. I got to Bismarck and I figured, “Okay, I’m done for the day.” Got a room at a Motel 6. Huge mistake. It’s a dirt hole. They do weekly rates, so there are a lot of full-time residents. The room smelled like an ashtray. Literally 100 cigarette butts sprayed outward from the room’s door, forming a fucking lung cancer delta on the pavement. Again – some bathroom damage. This time the door to the lavatory was smashed off the hinges and shoved into the tub. There were people, the Down and Out Crew, sitting around in folding chairs outside their motel rooms eyeballing me. I wasn’t worried… wasn’t concerned for my personal safety. I was worried about the bike being picked apart at three in the morning or waking up to simply find it gone, hauled off in the bed of a pick-up or whatever. Went across the street to Paradiso to eat dinner and regroup.

Estaciando en el paraiso

I decided maybe I would just muscle through and go all the way to Fargo, which is another 180 miles. Fuck it. I just got Bad Bismarck Vibes and decided I wanted to keep going.

I booked a hotel in Fargo over the phone, having dialed whatever 800 number came up when I googled lodging in Fargo (mistake). Then: a total pig fuck ensued. I’m on the phone with someone. It’s a same-day reservation. Was I sure I wanted to make the reservation? Yes. I figured I’ll be there by midnight or maybe 12:30, but whatever, I was feeling good, sure let’s do it. Then I asked a question since I am arriving after midnight, “Will there be someone at the desk? Just making sure.” She said, “Oh, hold on. Let me check.” She checks. Gets back on the phone, “Yes. Someone can wait. They’ll wait until 12:15. This is quite the courtesy blah, blah, blah.” Anyway, whole bunch of horseshit.

Bottom line is they were saying that if I arrived after midnight, it would essentially be a second-day arrival and they would have to rebook me for a second day. I was like, “Oh, okay. In that case, I probably shouldn’t make the reservation, because there’s no way I’ll be there in time.” She says, “Well, we’ve already made it. Your card has already been charged. Let me connect you to the cancellation department.”

Needless to say, while I ate my Mexican food sitting at the bar, I was on hold with no one for a half-hour. Hung up. Tried American Express, there’s nothing they can do so I’m fucked. What I realized in talking to American Express is that when I Googled the stupid fucking hotel and clicked the contact phone number, the contact phone number was not for the hotel, it was one of these thirdparty.com hotel booker fucking services, so I fucked myself.

That was just an oversight because I was tired and hungry and had just left the meth hotel. Needed something so I just didn’t check – was not vigilant. Instead of calling the desk at the place in Fargo, I got this fucking internet hoteldeals.com shithole place, so I fucked myself. Talked to Michelle, “What the hell do I do?” She booked this Wyndham jam and booked it while I talked to American Express. Now I’m here, in Bismarck still, but the room is clean and I spared myself another 180 mile leg just to flee the city.

Anyway, that’s the end of the report. A beautiful, beautiful, beautiful day. At some point earlier in the day I stopped– what is it– The Enchanted Highway. I don’t exactly know what this is, but I saw a sign for it. I don’t know if its– I’ll figure it out. I saw the sign, pulled off. “Maybe I’ll take The Enchanted Highway instead of the interstate for a while.” I ended up just pulling off.

Enchanted Highway

There was a huge sculpture on a hilltop across on the other side of the interstate, so I went over there. Took some photos. Took a break. Very pretty. Then: “All right, I’ll just get back on the interstate.” I did. Got to Bismarck, you know the rest.

Highlights included photographing those people, breakfast with the motorcycle peeps. I had lunch in Glendive, Montana, which, it’s spelled Glendive, like endives or ahndives. I saw a sign that said, “We believe in Glendive” which leads me to believe that’s how it’s pronounced. Lunch in Glendive. It was like a little– whatever I took a photo. I can’t fucking remember. The name’s Sonny’s maybe? I used the drive-in. It was also murderously hot as fucking balls. Anyway, lunch. More riding. Photos of that woman and her kids. I met some people at the statue.

“Sonny’s”

A woman photographed me. I photographed her. While I was hanging out, a couple from California showed up in their BMW. I photograph them. They used to live in Fort Greene. That was a fun little meeting, I didn’t get their names. Anyway, it was all glorious until I rolled up here and fucked up my lodging. I will note with some humility that this flies in the face of what I was talking about yesterday.

When you fly by the seat of your pants, arrive in a place and just figure it out, talk to people. Sure, sometimes that works, and then nights like tonight suck. I still maintain what I say about internet services being a drag. I don’t need Yelp to tell me where to eat. Likewise, tonight, it was accidentally booking through an internet company that fucked me out of $100. You live and you learn.

My last thought for the evening is, it occurs to me the time is ticking down. In the morning over breakfast, I’m going to have to establish a more aggressive and more purposeful itinerary to get home. I only did 330 something miles today. I feel like I’ve got to double that. Fewer stop offs. It’s like ride. Eat. Get gas. Ride. Get gas. Take a break. Drink a Gatorade. Ride. I have to cover more miles. That’s all. I don’t want to be bleary-eyed and crazy and exhausted and ride while compromised, but at the same time, I’ve got to get my ass back back to Brooklyn.

I’ll take a look at that tomorrow. Rather than just going until I feel like I’m done, I think tomorrow I will need to set a destination – with a hotel in mind, and set a fairly aggressive mileage goal. See if I can make that the plan until I get back to New York. [END OF AUDIO]